Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The Elderly Nurse

When I was in Glasgow's Royal Infirmary last December my first ward after A and E was the Medical Reception Ward. Whilst there I received lots of questioning, tests and so on. When one has sepsis one is often confused but I was alert enough to know what was happening when  a nurse walked across the ward towards me announcing "I'm the elderly nurse.".  My response was quite simply that she didn't look anywhere near as old as I am and I don't think of myself as elderly.

"No. I'm the Elderly Nurse." Ah. That was her title. Of course I knew that but it did seem a very strange moniker.

The standard questions followed: did I know my name?; did I know my address?; did I know where I was?; and did I know why I was here? Able to answer the questions without a problem I was pronounced not to have dementia and off she went to find another patient who might not have been so fortunate.

So when the nurse taking all my details when I got onto the ward last week said "And now for The Questions." I knew exactly what was coming and answered them without her having to ask. Without batting an eyelid she then asked me to recite the months of the year...backwards. As it happens I can do that almost as fast as I can recite them in the correct order: something I was totally unaware of until that moment.

Monday, 12 March 2018


I'm home: back on Lewis. It was a lovely day's drive and sail on Friday. I've unpacked and regrouped (Glasgow = shopping as well as concerts, visiting etc etc as well as hospital, hospital and hospital). Yesterday was spent corresponding: snail mail, email, WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram. Today was soup making day; a visit from Gaz and wee Brodie for lunch; and a general clearing up in the garden in the lovely weather this afternoon.

When one is in hospital one has all the time in the world. Everything is done for one. And yet with all that time at my disposal I achieved nothing in the time I was sitting in my nice little room with not even a television for distraction. So I listened to music, read the previous Saturday's 'Times' from cover to cover and did all the Mind Games. And almost nothing else for three and a half days.

I did gaze out over the Glasgow Necropolis occasionally. A great view from a hospital! Glasgow's Great and Good of old lie there.

Okay. I was rather ill for the first day or so until the intravenous antibiotics worked their magic but why didn't I actually use a pen and paper and draft some of the blog posts I wrote in my mind whilst sitting or lying there? Why didn't I write letters? (I write at least a dozen snail-mail letters/cards each week - usually more). Why didn't I read more than 3 chapters of the McCall Smith book I had with me? Why?

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Life - An Update

I’ve been in Glasgow for a couple of weeks.  I should have been home last week.  I came down for routine scans and an appointment with the drug trial coordinator for my cancer treatment. Once more things have not turned out as planned: partly because of the snowy weather and partly because I’m back in hospital with an infection again. One of the problems of being in hospital is that I’m separated from my laptop. This makes Blogland laborious using my iPhone. 

All my British readers will likely have seen plenty of pictures of snow much worse that the snow we’ve had in Glasgow but the chaos here has been considerable with trains cancelled en masse and general transport disruption. At Anna’s where I’m staying the road was totally blocked for cars except a few 4x4s for several days. I eventually got to The Beatson on Friday by walking out to the main road 25 minutes away on foot and getting a bus. In places the snow was over the top of my wellingtons.

I had planned this post with photos but despite all my efforts I cannot find a way that Blogger will post the photos from my phone. The original Blogger app was discontinued long ago and using Google’s Chrome app on my iPhone as my browser elicits the same message as do all the other browsers ie that it is not a Google supported browser for Google Blogger. How strange.

So that’s all folks: for now.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018


I’m not the world’s greatest analytical  thinker. In fact I’m probably not the best in my own household which is amazing given that I live alone. So the following comments are simply musings.

There can be few people who have seen Blue Planet 2 who are not to some extent now anti-plastic.

I have for years been wondering about the use of plastic in supermarkets. I think it began ten years ago in a small town in France called Civray at a chain supermarket called Intermarché . It was the first time that I had seen every single orange wrapped in plastic. Since then it has become a challenge to get into almost any food without removing layers of plastic.

This is a huge subject but I shall just make a few observations.

Plastics help keep food fresh and without them we in the UK (and presumably much of Europe) would be denied many all-year-round foods. Indeed we would be denied many foods that we now take for granted. It was very obvious when I lived in Napier (the same may not be true of the more cosmopolitan cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) that, generally speaking, fresh food was seasonal. There were exceptions: oranges always seemed to be from the USA for example and were available all the time. They don’t need plastic to stay edible! Apples - one of New Zealand’s big crops - were held in inert gas in massive storehouses so were also always available. In fact I don’t remember anywhere near as much plastic being used for packaging as is used in the UK.

One of my greatest joys in New Zealand was to stop at the roadside in The Handbag and buy a punnet or paper bag of cherries right off the tree that morning. I would then drive home and arrive having devoured the lot with not a bit of plastic involved. (Don’t tell anyone but, given that The Handbag was open topped, I used to curl my tongue and expel the stone).

I digressed.

Just about every food that is transported across the world (at great air mile environmental cost) is wrapped in plastic and probably could not be transported without it.

I’m not advocating no action. Indeed there are many things we could and should do and we should do them quickly.

However we should also think before we commit to alternatives.

Bioplastic much beloved by the vegan food industry takes 1.7 sq metres of arable land to provide each kilo. I think I read that Europe consumes about 60 million tonnes of plastic wrapping a year. If all this were grown in fields then it would take 40,000 sq miles (one tenths of Europe’s arable land).  It also tends to compost to methane very quickly which has 20 times the potency of CO₂.

Lots of ‘plastic’ things are being made of bamboo derivatives. That sounds good to me but, apparently, the bamboo crops of the world (it’s not the fastest growing plant) are being decimated fairly rapidly.

I have no idea what the answers are but there are great analytical  thinkers out there and perhaps the politicians should employ some to solve the problem before it becomes unsolvable as the world sinks in a plastic mire.

As an aside I think the hardest problem to solve is going to be secure bottle tops. You can’t press the side of metal caps in to release them from a medicine bottle.